What is a Knowledge Management Process?

The knowledge management process explains how knowledge is captured, curated, delivered, and optimized in an organization.

The knowledge management process is crucial to ensuring that employees and customers have access to information they need when they need it. Good KM processes facilitate accurate decision making, enable collaboration, and enhance communication.

  1. Knowledge Management Process: The Role
  2. Knowledge Management Process: The Objectives
  3. Knowledge Management Process: The Stages
  4. Knowledge Management Process: The Importance
  5. Knowledge Management Process: The Approaches
  6. Knowledge Management Process: Technology Matters

The role of the knowledge management process

The role of a knowledge management process is to standardize the procedures related to information, ideas, perspectives, and experiences.

The objectives of the knowledge management process

The main objective is to improve an organization’s collective knowledge and reduce the need to rediscover knowledge. Specific objectives will vary by business needs. In general, knowledge management processes are created to:

  • Increase the overall intellectual capital within the organization by connecting those looking for information with the information they need
  • Improve interactions between employees and with customers, improving satisfaction and communication
  • Improve the efficiency and quality of decision-making, reducing costs and speeding up innovation
  • Reduce training needs and repetition of knowledge creation, lowering costs and improving satisfaction

Success story: How a global bank implemented knowledge management processes to meet its CX objectives

Barclays Absa had a simple objective—to become the #1 bank in customer satisfaction in its market. It achieved this within 18 months of starting on the process while simultaneously expanding into 11 countries. The ambitious objective could not have been achieved without implementing in its customer service organization a process to collect, store, share, and use knowledge among its staff, 80% of whom were new and inexperienced. Hear more about how this was achieved.

Key stages of the knowledge management process

The knowledge management process includes the creation, maintenance, and renewal of information. The process can be split into six stages: Prioritize, audit, capture, curate, deliver, optimize.

Stage 1 – Prioritize

The first stage in a Knowledge management process is to prioritize the knowledge. Determine what customers are actually asking about and prioritize that information using the 80-20 rule (Pareto principle): 80% of your queries will be solved using 20% of your knowledge.

Stage 2 – Audit

Sometimes called Knowledge Identification, a knowledge audit involves finding and assessing the knowledge you already possess and identifying where gaps exist.

Gartner defines Knowledge Audit as “a formal determination and evaluation of how and where knowledge is used in business processes.”

  1. Review what content assets already exist that address the queries you prioritized
  2. Determine what new content needs to be created to meet the needs you prioritized

Knowledge comes from three types of sources.

  • Explicit knowledge: This is documented knowledge. It is easier to acquire and pass on. Documents, procedures, videos, and checklists are all examples of explicit knowledge.
  • Implicit knowledge: This knowledge is not documented, but valuable. It explains how to implement explicit knowledge. However, it is more difficult to acquire.
  • Tacit knowledge: Tacit knowledge is gained through experience and is difficult to articulate and therefore transfer. Those with tacit knowledge may not realize they have this knowledge or its importance. Tacit knowledge includes emotional intelligence, intuition, and judgment.

Stage 3 – Capture

Knowledge Capture follows the Knowledge Audit stage. It is also sometimes called Knowledge Acquisition. The captured information must be accurate and relevant. The knowledge capture stage involves both extracting useful information from a variety of sources (also known as knowledge discovery) and the creation of new information that the Knowledge Audit identified.

When extracting information

  1. Capture transactional context from existing systems of record through integrations
  2. Capture interactive context across touchpoints through integrations with other engagement systems, if they are not unified in one place, with eGain’s omnichannel engagement solution
  3. Capture knowhow from the best agents and subject matter experts
    1. Start from the customer problem
    2. Interview the best-qualified and best-performing agents about the conversational reasoning path they would take to solve the problem or provide advice
    3. Do the same with subject matter experts for more complex scenarios

Stage 4 – Curate

Captured knowledge must be appropriately stored in a manner that makes it accessible in the future. This requires the information to be curated, that is, assessed and organized.

Knowledge organization

Once knowledge has been captured and is to be stored, it needs to be organized – classified, categorized, indexed, and described. It should be organized based on business rules. Knowledge that is not organized cannot be efficiently retrieved and reused.

Knowledge assessment and review

Along with being organized, stored knowledge must be beneficial. It should be assessed to ensure it is accurate, current, complete, and consistent. Any redundant information should be eliminated.

A knowledge management system (KMS) is an IT system used to implement a knowledge management process.  A good knowledge management system will help organize and validate knowledge. When using a KMS to curate knowledge:

  1. Design content for easy personalization and findability
  2. Federate, migrate, and eliminate content, based on need and urgency
  3. Codify conversational expertise
  4. Design UX for wow in ease, effectiveness, efficiency, and emotion

Stage 5 – Deliver

Once you have captured and curated knowledge, the next step in the process is to deliver (distribute) the knowledge. This is sometimes referred to as Knowledge Application. Information should be made available to those actively seeking information (pulled on demand) and to those who could benefit (proactively pushed). Knowledge management processes that deliver knowledge well ensure the knowledge is not lost from the organizational memory.

Use of knowledge includes answering questions, making decisions, improving processes, and analyzing the knowledge itself.  A knowledge management system can be used to facilitate the delivery of information to the right people at the right time. The KMS can personalize content based on roles, personas, channels, and context.

  • Role-based portals make knowledge accessible to different groups of users, for example, customers, knowledge managers, or partners.
  • Persona-based rules can be established to allow access to particular roles, or even a particular authenticated user.
  • Knowledge can be tagged to ensure it is channel appropriate. For example, users browsing online get to see the complete article but links are sent to those communicating by SMS, the character limitations of Twitter is respected, and people on Apple Business Chat get rich content.
  • Users can be presented contextual information, for example, new customers might see different information from experienced customers.

Stage 6 – Optimize

A knowledge management system (KMS) incorporating AI, machine learning, and analytics can process knowledge and offer solutions and analysis to enable optimization of the system.

Areas to optimize include:

  1. Intent inference
    • Use Machine Learning to map customer utterances to intent and understand the intent in subsequent interactions
  2. Knowledge effectiveness
    • Monitor the effectiveness of content via user feedback
    • Analyze conversational paths to ensure the shortest route to the answer is used
  3. Knowledge scope
    • Identify gaps in knowledge either explicitly (for example, by asking the user if their issue was resolved) or implicitly (for example, by using knowledge analytics to monitor user behavior)
  4. Knowledge impact
    • Knowledge analytics can determine if the knowledge base covers the most commonly asked questions
    • Analytics can also be used to measure the impact of knowledge on core business metrics such as First Contact Resolution (FCR) and Agent Handling Time (AHT)

Why knowledge management processes are important

A centralized, accessible single source of truth for the entire organization increases efficiency and accuracy. Transparency and sharing of knowledge encourage team participation and alignment. New team members are onboarded quickly – they do not need to know everything, just how to find anything. When information is readily available, innovation happens as it frees up time to utilize the knowledge rather than seek it.

Why knowledge management is important, a case study from the health insurance industry

The pandemic caused a seismic change in how companies operate. Remote work and the Great Resignation highlight the importance of access to organizational knowledge. There are no more water-cooler moments or quick conversations with colleagues, and a huge loss of experienced staff.

We’ve seen from our clients how a strong knowledge management process is essential to enable organizations to function.  A premier health insurance firm faced with more than 2000 contact center agents switching to remote work, overnight, at a time when call volumes were higher than ever, was still able to reduce agent training time by 33% thanks to their Knowledge Management System. Their customer satisfaction actually increased!

Approaches to the knowledge management process

There are three approaches that businesses can take to create the knowledge management process.

  • People-centric: These processes focus on human interactions and the learning culture that encourages information to be shared.
  • Process-centric: These processes focus on organizational processes for sharing information and identifying where the information is held.
  • Tech-centric: These processes focus on technology to store and transfer knowledge.

The best knowledge management processes encompass all three! A holistic approach to knowledge management uses technology to support people to follow processes.

How technology supports the knowledge management process

Technology is essential in supporting an organization’s knowledge management process, and there are plenty of knowledge management tools and knowledge base software applications available to include in knowledge management processes. Some are better than others!

The key technology to support knowledge management is a unified Knowledge Management System or KMS. A Knowledge Management System includes content, along with access controls, conversational guidance, process guidance, analytics, and much more.

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If you need help implementing knowledge management processes in your organization, get in touch with eGain, we’ve been managing knowledge for more than two decades.

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